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Obama Campaign Launches LGBT Outreach

by Matthew S. Bajko
Sunday May 27, 2012

President Barack Obama's re-election campaign launched its efforts to reach LGBT voters Wednesday, two weeks ahead of a major Los Angeles fundraiser targeted at gay donors that will kick off Pride Month.

Dubbed Obama Pride: LGBT Americans for Obama, the committee is launching with trainings, phone banks, and house parties in a number of states, including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and Michigan. It will also be holding voter registration drives at Pride events across the country.

"We will be making sure LGBT voices are heard at the ballot box in November," said Jamie Citron, the Obama for America LGBT national vote director. "We will run robust LGBT vote programming in order to turn out LGBT voters in November."

Obama is riding a wave of enthusiastic support among LGBT Americans following his endorsement of same-sex marriage in a television interview May 9. A June 6 fundraiser starring the singer Pink had to be relocated to a larger venue in L.A. in order to handle the demand for tickets.

Polls released this week have shown that the president's backing marriage equality has not eroded his support. An Angus Reid Public Opinion survey found Obama's approval rating at nearly 50 percent.

Of the 1,012 American adults who took part in the survey, 49 percent approved of how Obama is handling his duties. That was an increase of 1 percent since March.

On the May 23 conference call with reporters Obama's National Campaign Co-Chair Joe Solmonese, the outgoing president of the Human Rights Campaign, said a key component of the LGBT efforts will be contrasting Obama's record on LGBT rights with the anti-gay positions that the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has taken.

While the president signed into law an LGBT hate crimes law and repealed the military's anti-gay ban known as "Don't Ask, Don' Tell," Solmonese noted that Romney has said he would not have repealed DADT and is in favor of seeing an amendment banning same-sex marriage be added to the U.S. Constitution.

"The choice we are facing could not be clearer. We can re-elect a leader working with our community. Or we can sit back and watch Mitt Romney take us back to where we started," said Solmonese.

In addition to its on-the-ground efforts, the Obama LGBT committee will be mobilizing supporters online through the website

There, backers of the president can buy Obama-branded LGBT merchandise, such as a $20 baby onesie or a $10 holder to keep canned beverages cold.

The site also can be used to search for LGBT-specific events by Zip code. As of Wednesday morning the only listing near San Francisco was for a pre-Pride weekend party Sunday, June 17 in Concord targeted at East Bay LGBT residents and their families.

"We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines," said Solmonese. "We need to register voters and talk to our neighbors and family about all Obama has done. There is no better time than Pride month to begin."

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